Indian Metro will Miss Him
Fondly known as the Metro Man of India, Elattuvalapil Sreedharan has finally bid adieus to his work at the age of 79 and is now officially retired. His contribution in building the Calcutta and Delhi metros cannot be overlooked. He worked extensively for the Konkan railway route, which was otherwise known for delayed and cancelled trains thanks to the frequent landslides during the rainy season. Mr Sreedharan’s most commendable effort was when he rebuilt the Pamban Bridge in the year 1963, after it was completely destroyed by a cyclone.
Sreedharan, like most middle class Indian children, went to normal school and college. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from Govt. Engineering College. With this modest background, he went on to be the boss of people who had graduated from some of the most prestigious colleges of India.
With his virtuous and honest, no-nonsense attitude, Sreedharan has survived for more than six decades in a field which is marred by red tape, corruption and low funds. In spite of all the hurdles, he was true to his goals and worked to make them come true. The most impressive thing about the well revered project manager was that all his projects were completed within the destined time. A non–pretentious person, he is an inspiration for the generations to come.
Sreedharan, the true dreamer
A builder by profession, he is also a confessed dreamer who dared to dream big and then worked to realize them. It is thanks to E. Sreedharan’s dreams that Indian infrastructure achieved new milestones. However, he has always attributed his success to the Indians at large in spite of being the legendary engineer of India.
One of Sreedharan’s most prestigious dreams was to design a Metro rail for the capital city of India. He felt that this would actually enhance the transportation system of the city which is otherwise in the doldrums, due to heavy traffic congestions and non-compliance to the traffic rules by the citizens. His Delhi Metro Rail project has completed transformed the way Delhi-ites conceptualized transportation.
Another project which won him a lot of accolades was redesigning the Konkan railway route, which connects Mumbai to Kochi and passes through the Western Ghats known for its phenomenal landslides during the monsoons. This project was handed to him at the time when he was nearing his age of retirement. Considered to be a non-feasible route by the British Engineers, Sreedharan was not one to be deterred by the complexity of the task. A lot of political and non-political protests were carried out and even lack of funds was cited as a reason to stall the project. Mr. Sreedharan went ahead and raised public bonds to finance the project and completed it well, within the stipulated time. Thanks to his efforts, now travelling through the Konkan route is comfortable and safe.
In the words of Kiran Bedi, the first IPS officer of India, “Mr. E Sreedharan definitely deserves accolades, honors and even Bharat Ratna. In spite of being in his late 70s, he still continues to function. His Metro projects have transformed the face of the metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities of India. This was made possible only because of his professional skills coupled with his dedication and integrity. Finding another person like him in this field is hard.”
An epitome of modesty
However, if you ask the ever modest Sreedharan, he believes that he has no special skills and has achieved whatever he has because of the cooperation of his co-workers. He says that when one works for a good cause, the support automatically follows. When asked how he managed to complete all his prestigious projects on time, he confesses that he used to set a reverse clock for his team and encouraged them to work against it.
In this age, when youngsters in their early 20s and 30s struggle to start their day at 6 or 7 in the morning, 79 years old Sreedharan is as energetic has ever. He wakes up at 4 in the morning, meditates and reads the holy Bhagawad Gita. He reports to work at 9:30 and without any dilly dallying, gets straight to it. In the evening, he goes for a long walk with his better half, Radha. He also makes sure that he spends time with his other family members. He confesses that the famous chant from the Bhagwad Gita which says that one should work without expecting to gain any fruits for his efforts is what keeps him going.
His latest project was the Kochi metro which is finally completed and now it is time for him to sit back and relax. The country will be forever thankful to him for his contribution in transforming the transportation scene in India. Whether the Indian government will adorn him with a Bharat Ratna or not, he has proved that he is a Ratna – a gem in his own special way. Kudos to Mr. E Sreedharan! He will be an inspiration for generations to come.